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Cablegate: Gulnora Karimova Appointed Deputy Minister Of

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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9173
INFO RUEHAH/AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT 3706
RUEHTA/AMEMBASSY ASTANA 9916
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1227
RUEHEK/AMEMBASSY BISHKEK 4320
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 0181
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 0080
RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE 0198
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 3910
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 2178
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 0269
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0927
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0855
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0356
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RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 1753
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0984
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0123
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 2304
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC

139899 2008-02-04 13:32:00 08TASHKENT153 Embassy Tashkent CONFIDENTIAL 07TASHKENT323|08TASHKENT117|08TASHKENT91 VZCZCXYZ0016\
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DE RUEHNT #0153/01 0351332\
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FM AMEMBASSY TASHKENT\
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9173\
INFO RUEHAH/AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT 3706\
RUEHTA/AMEMBASSY ASTANA 9916\
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1227\
RUEHEK/AMEMBASSY BISHKEK 4320\
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 0181\
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 0080\
RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE 0198\
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 3910\
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 2178\
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 0269\
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0927\
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0855\
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0356\
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS\
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 1753\
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0984\
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0123\
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 2304\
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC\
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RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC\
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C O N F I D E N T I A L TASHKENT 000153 \
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SIPDIS \
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SIPDIS \
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DEPT FOR SCA/CEN AND DRL \
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E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/04/2018 \
TAGS: PGOV PINR SCUL UZ
SUBJECT: GULNORA KARIMOVA APPOINTED DEPUTY MINISTER OF \
FOREIGN AFFAIRS FOR CULTURAL ISSUES \
\
REF: A. TASHKENT 91 \
B. 07 TASHKENT 323 \
C. TASHKENT 117 \
\
Classified By: POLOFF R. FITZMAURICE FOR REASONS 1.4 (B, D) \
\
1. (C) On February 4, the independent Uzmetronom website \
reported that Gulnora Karimova, President Karimov's eldest \
daughter, was appointed Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs \
for Cultural Issues. The article also reported that on \
February 1, President Karimov signed decree PP-787, creating \
a new department in the Uzbek MFA to focus on "cultural and \
humanitarian issues," presumably to be headed by Karimova in \
her new position. Karimova's appointment was confirmed in an \
MFA diplomatic note received later on February 4. \
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GULNORA'S APPOINTMENT CONFIRMED BY MFA \
-------------------------------------- \
\
2. (C) Karimova's appointment was confirmed in a telephone \
conversation XXXXXXXXXXXX, who commented that Karimova's appointment was a \
"good sign," noting Karimova's long-standing support for the \
arts in Uzbekistan through such organizations as Fund \
Forum.uz and the Bella Terra magazine. In her new position, \
Karimova will have a lead role in promoting Uzbek culture \
abroad. XXXXXXXXXXXX denied that Karimova's position was newly \
created, adding that Karimova was more qualified than her \
predecessors and would make an excellent cultural ambassador \
for Uzbekistan. Speaking privately with Pol-econ Chief later \
in the day, XXXXXXXXXXXX opined this was the beginning of \
Karimova's official elevation and that by next year she would \
be a Deputy Prime Minister. He also said (protect) that "no \
one" at MFA wants the job of working for her. The MFA \
appointment was confirmed by MFA diplomatic note on February \
4. \
\
3. (C) Karimova's appointment was also confirmed by Embassy \
agricultural assistant FSN, whose friend works in the MFA's \
accounting department and was ordered to prepare an office \
for Karimova at the MFA over the weekend. Karimova's \
appointment to a senior government positioned has been \
rumored in Tashkent for the past several weeks (ref A). \
\
FREE TO TRAVEL NOW TO THE UNITED STATES AND EUROPE? \
--------------------------------------------- ------ \
\
4. (C) In the February 4 article, Uzmetronom notes that \
Karimova's appointment "automatically entailed" the granting \
of "diplomatic immunity" to Karimova "outside of Uzbekistan." \
The state of New Jersey issued a warrant out for her arrest \
after she fled the United States with her children in 2001 \
following a messy divorce and custody battle from her first \
husband, an AmCit who has since been awarded custody of the \
children. As a result, Karimova is unable to travel to the \
United States or Europe without fear of arrest (ref B). \
Despite the warrant, though, there have been rumors that \
Karimova has traveled in recent years to France. \
\
GULNORA'S REPORTED INVOLVEMENT WITH SWITZERLAND-BASED ZEROMAX \
CORPORATION \
--------------------------------------------- -------- \
\
5. (C) Embassy political FSN believed that Karimova's \
appointment is an attempt to provide her with diplomatic \
cover so that she may be able to travel freely once again to \
E \
\
Europe, and possibly even to the United States, to inspect \
her family's finances. Karimova is widely seen as \
controlling the Zeromax corporation, which is headquartered \
in Switzerland and controls a large stake in many of the key \
sectors of the Uzbek economy, including its gas, oil, and \
gold extraction industries. According to political FSN, \
Zeromax generates a significant percentage of the ruling \
family's annual income. In addition, the Karimov family \
reportedly holds large bank accounts in both Europe and the \
United States, though it relies on middlemen to carry out \
transactions as a result of Karimova's arrest warrant. Due \
to squabbles over business interests, Gulnora is reportedly \
estranged from her younger sister Lola, who was recently \
appointed to a position at United Nations Education, \
Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) headquarters \
in Paris (ref C). Gulnora is also viewed as much closer to \
her father than Lola. \
\
SADLY, CURTAINS FOR GOOGOOSHA \
----------------------------- \
\
6. (C) The February 4 Uzmetronom article also reports that \
Karimova's appointment would sadly entail the closing of her \
www.googoosha.uz website, whose launch in 2007 coincided with \
the release of her musical compact disc under the "Googoosha" \
stage name. \
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COMMENT \
------- \
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7. (C) Whether Gulnora Karimova's appointment to Deputy \
Foreign Minister is preparation for succession or an attempt \
to provide her diplomatic cover to travel again to Europe and \
the United States, or both, is hard to tell. It is possible \
President Karimov himself has not quite decided. What is \
certain is that Gulnora's uncertain status greatly \
complicates Karimov's succession, and this appointment allows \
some flexibility as the local political situation plays out. \
On the one hand, Gulnora could become a Deputy Prime \
Minister, though with the number of enemies she has acquired \
through her rapacious business appetites, this might prove an \
ill-fated move. More probable, in our estimation, is an \
attempt to forge for Gulnora a positive international image \
and perhaps buy her the political protection she will need \
when and if the Karimovs decide to exit Uzbekistan's \
political state - and perhaps Uzbekistan itself. \
NORLAND \v

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